Anti-govt protests: Malaysia tells Karunanidhi to ‘lay off’

Anti-govt protests: Malaysia tells Karunanidhi to ‘lay off’

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia told an Indian state minister on Thursday to mind his own business after the official complained about Malaysia’s treatment of its ethnic Indians.

On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu chief minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene and protect the rights of Tamils. He made the request after the minority community’s biggest anti-government protest in Malaysia over the weekend that was sparked by anger over policies they say prevent ethnic Indians from getting decent jobs or a good education for their children.

“This is Malaysia, not Tamil Nadu," said Malaysia’s de-facto justice minister Nazri Aziz. “This has got nothing to do with him ... lay off."

In the letter to Singh, Karunanidhi said he was “pained" at the way Malaysian police had treated Tamils when they organized a rally to complain of racial discrimination. Aziz said he had not seen a protest letter from Karunanidhi.

The rally, which drew more than 10,000 people, had triggered sporadic protests in Tamil Nadu, witnesses said.

Karunanidhi said Tamils were the largest group among Malaysia’s 1.8 million ethnic Indians and added that the people of Tamil Nadu were disturbed by the events there.

He sought Singh’s intervention “to end the sufferings and bad treatment of Malaysian Tamils." Karunanidhi’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party is an ally in Singh’s Union coalition government.

Multi-racial Malaysia has brushed aside claims that it mistreated ethnic Indians, saying that they were better off than those in India. But ethnic Indians complain of a lack of educational and business opportunities, saying government affirmative action policies, which favour majority ethnic Malays, had marginalized them.

S. Murari in Chennai contributed to this story.